Sully Erna is the lead singer for the band Godsmack. The band is currently touring as part of the Mass Chaos tour featuring Staind and Halestorm. Media Mikes had a chance to be a part of a teleconference with Sully to discuss the tour and the bands new live album.
Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the current trend of multi-headlining band tour?
Sully Erna: Yeah. You know what? It’s really not that different than how it used to be back in the day. There was always at least two strong bands that went out and obviously a third or a fourth, even back in the ’80’s when it was Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe or whatever. I don’t think this is really that uncommon. I think that question is maybe more geared towards festivals where it takes seven, eight bands to fill up an amphitheater or whatever.
AL: What can fans expect from the live shows on this tour?
SE: Well, we’re not supporting, like, a new studio record, but we do have a live CD coming out. We are known to be a live band so it was nice to capture that finally and put together this CD. I think we just have the mentality of going out for something similar to a greatest hits tour. We’re just going to put together a really fun set. Obviously we’ll have the drum battle that Shannon and I do and we’re just going to try to put together the best and most energetic songs we can. This is actually kind of a vacation for us a in the sense there’s no real hard work behind prepping for a new record and all that stuff. This is kind of let loose and have fun with it tour.
AL: Is there a plan in regards to which band will be closing the show each night? And is there any possibility of onstage collaboration between any of the three bands?
SE: I feel like either band could close. All three bands are strong. The whole line-up is great. Any single one of these bands could go on first, second, or third; it wouldn’t matter. I mean, the whole package is really strong and I’m really excited about it. As far as collaborating, Mike and I have spoken about it. We’re going to try to figure out a handful of songs that a bunch of us could jump up and just have some fun with a band of the night, which we’re all about. And so we don’t know what those are yet, but we’re definitely going to consider it and we’re going to try to put something together that just tops the night off and becomes fun for everybody.
AL: How do you prepare your voice prior to going on on tour?
SE: I do nothing. I swear to God. I’m not even saying that to be funny. I do nothing; I may sing along to the radio a little bit but then again I don’t really qualify myself as an amazing singer. I go up there and hack it up with everyone else. I do drink a lot of tequila before I go on stage, though. That’s not a lie. It bring out all the phlegm. The vocal warm-ups don’t work for me, so it’s either tequila or something and then it brings out all the crap that’s in the throat.
AL: I know you’re doing both solo shows and shows with Godsmack this spring. Has it been hard preparing stuff for both types of settings, because they are quite different from each other?
SE: It depends as I am doing three different things. The Avalon thing was a lot more complicated because it’s an eight-piece ensemble and I had musicians from all over the world. I have cello players from Bulgaria and one of my percussionists is from Ireland, and that’s a lot more complicated, a lot more work is involved, but I haven’t been doing that lately. If anything, I’m just doing some solo shows by myself, just to keep my voice warm and it’s one of those things that I enjoy doing as well. But there’s no competition with Godsmack or anything like that, and I enjoy doing both. So, it’s really not that complicated to just go out and play a few side shows here and there, just to stay in tune. I’m really preparing for this tour. I mean, I’m looking forward to getting together with the guys and just firing up this show, because we haven’t really done anything in a little bit.
AL: Could you tell us a little bit more about the new Godsmack live album?
SE: It’s a live record from Detroit, Rock City. We thought it was just kind of a very exceptional show for us. We had a really good show. We were recording a lot on that tour. We actually recorded the whole tour. We were going to do a compilation, like this song was from Vegas, a song from Chicago, some from Dallas, but I don’t know, the more we looked in this Detroit show and the more we figured out that it was a really good show for us. It’s a special kind of fan base that they have there. They live up to their reputation. They’re a great rock audience so that’s where the record was recorded from.
AL: Your lyrics span a broad spectrum from a very deep and thought-provoking to a more direct and in your face. What type of prep do you do to take yourself from one level to another?
SE: I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about that. I guess it depends if I’m going from Godsmack to the solo stuff and it’s a completely different world, but within Godsmack genre, it’s all kind of the same. The band’s fairly aggressive, loud and raw so it’s pretty easy to stay there. I need to kind of separate the two for sure, because one’s very different from the other, but I need balance to both. I need to be one in order to be the other so I think the stuff I do as Sully Erna is the more serene kind of humble stuff and then Godsmack is obviously for Godsmack. There’s really no set preparation I do. It is what it is. I just can’t blend the two together. I couldn’t do a bunch of Godsmack songs and then switch right into solo stuff; it wouldn’t work. But I don’t, like, sit Indian style and float in the air, if that’s what you mean
AL: Can you give me an idea of what it’s like working with Shannon Larkin and what he brings to the band?
SE: I am probably Shannon’s biggest cheerleader. I have known since 1986/87. We met when we were both drumming in different bands and we did a bunch of shows together and probably he was the first and only guy since that made my jaw hit the floor when I watched him play. If you’ve seen Shannon, you know what I mean. He’s the most animated – he’s just amazing. Like, to me, he’s probably the best showman drummer I’ve ever seen. He’s got a great energy about him. He’s a really super great guy. He’s got a great heart and he’s real considerate. On stage he’s a monster; he’s so not what he is offstage. He’s been one of my idols and I’m really proud and grateful to have him in this band. He was my first choice and he wasn’t available when I first reached out to him when I started the band. Years later when we decided to let go of our drummer, I reached out to him just one more time. He had just happened to leave his band and he was going to give it up. He was pretty much hanging it all up. Shannon’s a great guy, man. He’s a great drummer and, I don’t know, I can’t say enough about him.
AL: Are you working on any new Godsmack material?
SE: We’re hoping for 2013. We just started listening to some ideas. It’s still very, very, early in that stage, so we’re not sure yet, but we are going to shoot for 2013 sometime.
AL: You guys have toured with so many great bands in the past is there any musician’s that you have still yet to meet but haven’t had the chance?
SE: Yeah, the guys from AC/DC I haven’t met yet. I think they would be fun. I met most of the people that I’ve been inspired by over the years and we’ve toured with most of them as well, but AC/DC is one of the bands I haven’t met; Brian Johnson or Angus Young. I think that would be great to meet them. They are one of the last bands that I would want to actually tour with, but I’m afraid of them. They’re too bad. I hear the guitar tech gets a bigger applause when he bring Angus’ guitar out and puts it on the stand than the opening acts do. It’s true!